MountainTrue Raleigh Report

The MountainTrue Raleigh Report covers environmental politics and policy, with a focus on the issues that affect Western North Carolina. Sign up to get the Raleigh Report delivered to your inbox.

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MT Raleigh Report: Two Good News Appointments, What’s Next at the General Assembly

MT Raleigh Report: Two Good News Appointments, What’s Next at the General Assembly

In case you missed it, two of North Carolina’s environmental leaders got new, high profile jobs recently.

First, Secretary of the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) Michael S. Regan was appointed by President-Elect Joe Biden to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Prior to leading NC DEQ, Secretary Regan led clean energy expansion programs at the Environmental Defense Fund, and also served as an air quality expert at the EPA for almost a decade. You might remember that Secretary Regan also received hundreds of public comments from MountainTrue members and our allies calling for full excavation of North Carolina’s coal ash in 2019 – a decision he ultimately ordered, resulting in the largest coal ash cleanup in US history.

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MT Raleigh Report: General Assembly Convenes For Two-Day Session & Preparing To Vote

MT Raleigh Report: General Assembly Convenes For Two-Day Session & Preparing To Vote

Members of the General Assembly return to Raleigh tomorrow for yet another short – very short – two-day session. While Governor Cooper released an ambitious package of budget priorities including pandemic response proposals and bond measures last week, lawmakers are not expected to take up much of those plans. Instead, look for the legislature to focus on a more limited expenditure of some portion of the state’s still-unspent federal COVID-19 relief funds, including a bump in unemployment benefits and new investments in rural broadband to support the rise of online schooling.

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MT Raleigh: The General Assembly’s Back In Action

MT Raleigh Report: Politics, Budget Policy and the Pandemic at the North Carolina General Assembly

The lack of a budget development process at the legislature is a mixed bag for the environment. For starters, it leaves organizations like MountainTrue with no way to engage lawmakers about much-needed investments to protect our natural resources. On the other hand, it avoids – or at least postpones – the steep cuts that the legislature would likely propose for regulatory agencies that protect our air and water if they attempted to draw up a new budget.

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Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.